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Main page » Non-Fiction » Science literature » Maths » The Writing on the Wall

The Writing on the Wall


Do the Math #2: The Writing on the Wall
By Wendy Lichtman

    * Publisher:   Greenwillow Books
    * Number Of Pages:   224
    * Publication Date:   2008-07-01
    * ISBN-10 / ASIN:   006122958X
    * ISBN-13 / EAN:   9780061229589

Product Description:

Eighth grade, like algebra, has become pretty complicated for Tess. For one thing, there are the patterns she's noticing everywhere—like how charming-on-the-outside Richard keeps playing scary pranks on her, and how annoying copycat Lynn always has to follow what everyone else is doing. Then there's the pattern of graffiti that keeps appearing on the wall by her school—could those numbers be a code meant for Tess? Is it up to her to find out what they mean? And most importantly, if Damien keeps up with his pattern of waiting for her after school, does it mean he likes her? Or is that just a coincidental system?

Tess looks for formulas to help her figure it all out, but she's afraid there may be none. Sometimes you have to make up your own solutions.

Sometimes, you just have to risk it.

Summary: And Another Book Read Reviews
Rating: 4

Tess isn't really looking forward to her second semester of 8th grade. After making enemies last semester with Richard, Tess knows that life won't be enjoyable. Her suspicions are confirmed when she finds that Richard tore entries out of her journal, stole her backpack and even squirted cranberry juice on her sweatshirt. The only things Tess can look forward to each day is hanging out with her friends and going to Algebra, her favorite class of the day. On the way to school one day Tess notices a set of math problems painted on the big graffiti wall behind a nearby church and her math obsessed brain starts to churn. Could these problems possibly be a code? When there is a fire in the computer lab at school Tess definitely thinks she's onto something and hopes to crack the graffiti code. Even though she knows she could get in trouble, will Tess risk writing on the wall to solve the problem?

First of all I was a little skeptical of the book. While it was cool that Tess was a math geek, like me, I wasn't sure I would like the book because it appealed to a younger audience and I hadn't read the first book in the series, Secrets, Lies and Algebra. Wow was I proved wrong! I enjoyed every aspect of the book and ended up really, really liking it. It was completely unnecessary to read the first book and very easy to relate to Tess. I was always anxious to read what was coming next and wasn't able to predict anything. I especially enjoyed how real the novel was. The ending wasn't perfect, the characters weren't exempt from certain situations, and the characters were completely enjoyable. I highly recommend this book for all reader, but I think middle grade readers will particularly enjoy Writing on the Walls. All in all a really good book that will satisfy a hunger for mystery, humor, a little romance, or maybe all three.

Summary: Do the Math #2 - FABULOUS!!
Rating: 5

I got this book for my two nieces (Age 9 & 14) because they loved Secrets, Lies and Algebra so much. Both girls were blown-away by the sequel and raved on about how it was "cool" that math could be woven into their lives without actually spitting out numbers!

Summary: Friends, Middle School and Math
Rating: 5

My students loved the return of Tess, her friends, middle school life AND the math in The Writing on the Wall. Wendy Lichtman's characters are realistic, likeable, and fun to be with. My students were intrigued by the mystery that unfolded and the mathematical patterns and formulas Tess used to solve it. I highly recommend this very appealing and readable book to students in grades 5-8.

Summary: Math as Metaphor
Rating: 5

In this sequel to Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra, Tess and her friends are back in school from winter break. The second semester is not off to a good start. There is a mysterious fire in the computer lab the first week back, and Richard, Tess's nemesis, continues to bully her. His pranks, such as tearing pages from her English journal and stealing her backpack are not only annoying, but making her look like a slacker to her teachers.

It seems the only good thing in Tess's school life is algebra class--a subject she loves. Algebra is logical, it makes sense. One can find solutions by looking for patterns and using formulas. Indeed, Tess has taken to using math as a metaphor as she negotiates the ups and downs of her middle-school existence.

When some mathematical graffiti shows up on the wall of the church behind her school, Tess becomes obsessed with solving the code. With the help of her grandfather, she realizes the tagger (the person who created the graffiti) has written ARSON. Could this somehow be related to the computer lab fire? Tess decides to communicate with the tagger.

Using paint sticks and a coded math formula, Tess asks "Where?" When the tagger responds with the room number of the computer lab, Tess decides to investigate. What she finds, ultimately, is that things--and people--are not always what they first appear, and the "hard part about the kind of problems you have in real life . . . is that there are no formulas."

The Writing on the Wall is wonderfully appealing. Tess is a well-drawn, likable character that middle schoolers will relate to. The setting and situations are realistic and spot-on. Lichtman has cleverly woven together the stuff of algebra (variables, factorization, symbols) and the stuff of middle-school life (friendships, drama, finding one's place in the world) into a highly readable, unique story.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis.

Summary: Better for Younger Readers
Rating: 4

Tess is just your average math loving eighth-grader until she becomes a little too interested in some graffiti at her school. Tess's friend Sammy convinces her that the blue numbers form a sort of code, and Tess becomes determined to crack it. Unfortunately, this requires a lot of lying and some vandalizing on Tess's part. But Tess is only concerned with finding out the message and doesn't think about the consequences.

I found it interesting how Tess compared people and life to various math problems, but I could see the logic in it. For example, Tess's friend Miranda's math symbol is |m|, which always has a positive value, just like Miranda always sees the good in everything. But what I appreciated most about this math-obsessed girl was how she realized that her system of comparing everything to math was flawed because not everything in life can be figured out using simple steps and formulas.

I will admit that I was surprised that The Writing on the Wall was a mystery book; I thought it would be about some math geek who's having a hard time in middle school. But I'm glad that math and mystery were combined to create this novel, which I highly enjoyed reading. Tess's character is funny and very logical (in all things math), something I can appreciate and relate too. I also liked how Tess seemed to know how to do the right thing but was clueless in others, such as the world of boys.

If you are looking for a light and fast read, The Writing on the Wall is a good choice. I recommend it for younger readers, but even math lovers in higher grades will enjoy this book.

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Tags: keeps, pattern, those, numbers, schoolmdashcould